The UVic Writer's Guide


Quoting From Secondary Sources


In a literary essay, if you are quoting from a secondary source--a critic, a biographer, a historian--it is often good tactics to choose a passage you disagree with, wholly, or in part, then to discuss the way in which you feel the critic's view needs to be modified or extended.

In this way you will establish your own view more cogently than if you are passively allowing a critic to speak for you. If you have found a writer who expresses precisely what you want to say, it is usually better to summarize the point in your own words and to acknowledge your source. It is not usually effective to finish an essay by quoting someone else's ideas and words.


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Copyright, The Department of English, The University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated April 20, 1995